Dear Members and Friends of Shepherd of the Hills,
The Congregation Council and I have discussed the recent developments of the Covid pandemic. The discussion included these findings:
– ABC News reported on 12/28/21 at 6:00pm that the current Covid positivity rate in New Jersey has reached 28%, nearly double the rate at this time last year
– NJ public schools continue to have a mask mandate for all students, teachers, and staff
– The Omicron and Delta variants seem to be even more contagious than the original Covid-19 strain as per local and national health officials
…and the infection rate has hit close to home. In the past two weeks, members of our congregation have tested positive for Covid and are in various stages of quarantine.
In light of these findings (and several others) your Congregation Council and I are enacting the following measures, effective immediately:
(1) There will be a universal mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status, for all individuals entering our building for worship and Sunday School during the month of January. We have also communicated the same request to others who use our building.
(2) We will use individual, sanitary communion kits for holy communion in place of distributing the elements.
(3) We will continue to encourage physical distancing and will refrain from hugging, handshaking, and other close contact.
(4) Hand sanitizer stations will continue to be available indefinitely throughout the church building.
The Congregation Council will re-evaluate the situation when it reconvenes for its January 24, 2022 meeting. If the Covid positivity rate remains high at that time, we will be required to extend the safety measures mentioned above.
Let’s face it, we’re all Covid weary and “sick and tired” of this pandemic which continues to rage on (and even ramp up) as we approach the two-year anniversary of its genesis. But, an ounce of prevention now is worth a pound of cure later.
I commend the congregation for being flexible with these necessary modifications to the way we worship, congregate, and fellowship together. Hopefully soon, this pandemic will be in our collective rear view mirrors and we can enjoy the unencumbered traditions and worship practices we value and love. But until then we must remain vigilant to the potential dangers precipitated by the rampant spread of this virus.
Please pray for members of our community who have recently tested positive for the virus…and keep hope in your heart that God will lead us safely through this daunting time in our human history.
May God bless you all with a safe and healthy new year!
Yours in Christ,